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It’s here: Baseball in the schools

Inaugural season expected to get underway in September
  • The Ministry of Education announced yesterday that baseball will be implemented in public schools through The Bahamas this upcoming school year. From left: Ministry of Education Sports Officer Evon Wisdom; Senator Greg Burrows; Bahamas Softball League representative Eurked Dorsett; Deputy Director of Education Ross Smith; Bahamas Baseball Federation Secretary Teddy Sweeting; and New Providence Softball Association President Godfrey Burnside. AHVIA J. CAMPBELL

KELSIE JOHNSON
Guardian Sports Reporter
kelsie@nasguard.com

Published: May 16, 2013

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Student-athletes competing under the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association’s (GSSSA) umbrella will soon be able to step onto the baseball diamond, now that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has officially added that sport to the curriculum.

The Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF) and the Bahamas Softball Federation (BSF) have partnered with the ministry to bring the realization of baseball in the schools to fruition. Competition is expected to swing into action this September when the new school year starts. As of now, softball is being played in the school system. According to Evon Wisdom, director of the Sports Unit in the ministry, the sport will be played by male student-athletes. Wisdom was unable to reveal the age group which will compete for the first title, but said the initiative was mandated by Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald.

"This mandate came down from our minister with regard to baseball being played in the schools,” said Wisdom. “What we have done is have both associations sit down and coordinate a plan. They are still in the process of coordinating that plan where both sports co-exist with one another. It is not an adversarial arrangement, but one where both sports can experience continued growth. We see an excellent arrangement to come from both parties not just in New Providence but in The Bahamas at large. We now play at the primary school level, and we will continue to develop that because it’s very important that the skills develop at the fundamental level and continue to develop straight through to the high school level."

Secretary General in the BBF Teddy Sweeting said a number of scholarships are awarded every year to persons with excellent fundamental skills. He noted that the transition from softball to baseball is fairly easy for young men who have played at the high school level here at home, referring to the number of scholarship recipients already playing in colleges abroad. Sweeting and Senator Greg Burrows both agreed that the program is long overdue and should have been inserted into the curriculum a long time ago. Burrows, the founder of the Freedom Farm Baseball League, said the program will be introduced in stages, confirming that clinics will be held for physical education teachers.

Senator Burrows said: "It has been a long time coming, but I know that we will make this work and we expect great things from this program. The clinics and conclaves have already started. It will be an ongoing process for the certification of the coaches for the new school year, but I do not believe we can wait any longer. We have to start this program and make any adjustments we need to as we move forward.

“We will have more folks coming to this country to look at players, so that opens up another avenue with sports tourism. We must be aware that we have a large number of young men leave this country every year to play baseball in schools abroad. I think the country is poised. I think everyone is ready and it will benefit everyone if we can keep a lot of our athletes here."

The official home for the sport will be the new baseball field which is currently under construction. Until then, the various teams will compete at two fields located in the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex or at the Freedom Farm Baseball League park. The Pinewood Gardens facility is also being looked at by the minister. The sport is already being played in the school system in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and will also be introduced to the schools in the Family Islands.

The BBF is expected to oversee the baseball program while the BSF will keep a close eye on the softball season for young ladies. Both presidents, of the two sporting bodies, Burkette Dorsette and Godfrey Burnside, have put their stamp of approval on the new initiative, pledging to launch their full support behind it.


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